Under the spotlight with TechHub's Digital Democrat, Pete Anderson

Demo Nights are back at TechHub Swansea, and we are lining up a game-changing series of tech entrepreneurs and startups, that have their roots firmly grounded in the heart of Swansea! Set in the informal and relaxed surroundings of our Basement Cafe, our community of innovators are given the platform to showcase their product or service, to audience of experts, advisors and ambitious companies; to gain valuable feedback to help their product go further, faster!

We met with Pete Anderson, CEO and founder of VocalEyes, who will be joining us on 10th October to tell us more about how Digital Democracy can shape your community:

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you’ve gotten to where you are now?

Weeeelll, I’m actually a sailing instructor so no idea what I’m doing here really! I left school at 16 to teach sailing on the south coast, Hayling Island, and never looked back, arriving in Dale, Pembrokeshire in my mid twenties after racking up a decent amount of seafaring tales.

At that point, for some reason I thought I’d better try to get myself a real job and decided to train myself in Flash. 4 months later, to my great surprise I had 10 clients, some of them pretty big too, like Honda and Ivax Pharmaceuticals. That enabled me to hire some great local talent and I built a team of 10 over 3 years before selling the company 3 years later.

I threw myself a curveball and put the proceeds into the build of a cafe, bar and restaurant in Broadhaven, Pembrokeshire.. I know.. I know.. Lets just say it was a bumpy ride, a bit of a bucking bronco and I’m glad to be out alive!

Then it was back into IT but this time to build a hyper-local social network and resource management system called LocalEyes, (with an “L”), this ended up being rather ambitious so I broke it down into stages of which the first is VocalEyes (with a “V”).

Can you briefly outline the service your business (VocalEyes) provides?

OK, well in lingo jargon speak it's a community organising platform with digital democracy, crowdsourcing and participatory budgeting tools. In normal tongue the platform enables groups to debate and prioritise ideas, see what money is available to spend on them, log open and transparent expenditure, commit time and resources to making them happen and report back actions and good news stories. Good ideas into action kinda thing.

How does VocalEyes differentiate itself from its competitors?

No other platform combines the tools like we do and pretty much all other conversational / consultation platforms deliver the service in silo to the group or organisation whereas ours gives access to all the groups you’re involved in through one dashboard. It’s kinda Facebookesque but with the opposite focus. VocalEyes tries to go beyond the “like” and the “share” to rating, debating, commitment to make real stuff happen and positive change.

Can you give three examples of where VocalEyes is being used?

Neath Port Talbot College for both students and staff, Unison NRW for their members and Swansea County Council have a community organising project in some of the rural areas in Swansea.

Where is the industry heading and what's in the pipeline for VocalEyes?

Well almost everything is being democratised right? From centralised vertical power structures to lateral, horizontal, distributed economies. Information with our access to Google, Wikipedia etc, publishing though YouTube, blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc. Production with 3D printing. Energy, with thousands of local renewable energy coops. Bizarrely one sector that has yet to democratised is democracy itself!

Decision making at every level is still something we rarely engage with and few people feel excited or empowered by our governance processes. There’s still no app in people’s pockets that someone on the street would enthusiastically point at if you asked them how they influence their local communities, groups or workplaces.

That’s the massive void we’re aiming to fill to some degree and the plan is to compile the most awesome projects that currently exist, that have proven track record and positive impact, and seed them into the relevant groups and communities so the conversation becomes one of prioritising which of these amazing projects are right for us.

Register today to hear more from Pete at our legendary Demo night - don’t miss your chance to be part of an environment ripe for discovering the next best tech-thing!